Annapolis lawmakers are considering a controversial new plan to privatize the city's trash collection that could cut residents' bills in half while expanding recycling services.
The proposal, developed by a three-member City Council committee, would hire a private company to pick up trash, reduce collections to once a week and require all 32,000 residents to recycle.
"Without a doubt, this is the best policy for the city of Annapolis," LTC Alderman Wayne Turner said in unveiling the recommendations that the full council is to consider Monday night.
The Ward 6 Republican, who chaired the committee, said plans to include newspapers and plastics in curbside recycling "should make the environmentalists of the city happy," while residents would be pleased by a sharp reduction in trash fees, now among the highest in Maryland.
Twenty-three trash collectors and clerical workers would lose jobs if the council contracts out the service. At least five of them qualify for early retirement, and others might be moved to other jobs such as yard waste collection or street cleaning, said Public Works Director John E.C. Patmore.
He was unable to say on Friday how many would be fired.
At least four council members are likely to vote against the proposal because it means laying off city employees and could cost more in the long run, said Alderman Carl O. Snowden, D-Ward 5.
"While there may be some cost savings initially, there's no guarantee that it would be in the long term," he said. "The other side is, it means people's jobs. It would be a tremendous hardship for them."
At the same time, the reduction in garbage pickup from twice a week to once is likely to dismay homeowners willing to pay higher fees for what they consider superior service.
Annapolis was charging residents $188 a year for trash collection, although the price included a tipping fee for the city's landfill, scheduled to close at the end of December. Under the privatization proposal, trash fees could drop to $90 or $95 a year.
Mr. Turner said he believes residents will be equally pleased by ++ the service from a private company. Which hauler would be chosen depends on the city administration, he said. But C & S Faulkner of Hanover and Waste Management Inc. of Elkridge submitted the lowest bids.Waste Management was somewhat higher, but the company offers health benefits for its employees, Mr. Turner said.
The committee also recommended halting financial support for a recycling center on Spa Road run by the Providence Center.
If the plan were adopted, a private company would take over trash collection Jan. 1. Trash would be collected once a week in Annapolis, between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m., and hauled to the county's landfill in Millersville.
Aldermen Dean Johnson, I-Ward 2, and John Hammond, R-Ward 1, also served on the committee that spent nearly a year studying trash collection alternatives. On Friday, Mr. Turner credited their work, saying "they had the backbone to make recommendations very few politicians would make."